Making the Case for a DACA Package: SOTU Edition

By Mark Krikorian on January 30, 2018

It's no secret I've been disappointed in some of the specifics of last week's White House immigration framework. Details aside, though, there's been a bigger shortcoming in the president's discussion of the issue for several months now: No explanation of why it's a coherent whole and not just a random assemblage of policy changes.

Sen. Cotton has been making the case for some time that the enforcement and legal-immigration changes are integral parts of any DACA amnesty, necessary to limit the fallout of the amnesty. "White House officials" are finally making the argument:

White House officials rejected suggestions that the president was asking for too much. In rolling out his plan last week, aides called the citizenship path for dreamers a potential lure for additional illegal immigration and said the proposed border security increases — including more immigration agents and judges — would help prevent it.

They said the curbs to family immigration — which Trump and other conservatives have referred to as "chain migration" — would help offset a surge in legalized immigrants represented by the dreamers, who have been in the country since they were children.

I'm told that Kelly was asked by reporters what parts of the proposal the White House might be willing to negotiate on and that Kelly replied to the effect that there were no "parts," that it was one thing, not as a political matter, but functionally, as a policy matter.

I hope the New York Times is right this morning in telling us to expect an "optimistic" speech lacking the hard edge of some past offerings. Part of that should be laying out how and why the provisions of a proposed DACA deal relate to one another. A recent Harvard-Harris poll suggests the public is broadly supportive of combining a DACA amnesty with limits on chain migration and an end to the visa lottery, but for that public support to be politically salient, the president has to give it voice and explain why it's necessary.